Comics Daze

Over the past year, I’ve been picking up quite a few comics from a Swedish publisher I was unfamiliar with: Lystring. So the other week, I was thinking… “perhaps what they’ve published earlier is still available?”


Mua ha ha.

But I’m not going to be reading all Swedish comics today, because I’ve also apparently been shopping a lot of stuff from all over:


But that Lystring haul reminds me of a phenomenon I think is slightly odd when it comes to comics publishing: They seem to disappear so fast. That is, when a small press publisher prints something, they seem to almost always aim at getting rid of all their copies within the year? And I understand that there’s economical reasons for that (paying for printing for copies you’re going to sit on for years is often not feasible), and also probably emotional/sanity reasons for that (having a cupboard filled with copies of your book is probably not … not depressing?), but… When I happen onto an artist with a fabulous new book, and I want to get their older work — it’s usually impossible to find. Because they printed 300 copies and sold out after three months and went “phew! got rid of them all!!!” and now it’s three years later.

I’m just saying: There’s an audience for interesting comics. And they might not find your work immediately, but perhaps after a while? So perhaps print a few more copies?

Or not! You know what’s best for you; I’m just blabbering here…

But apparently the Lystring publisher has a barn to store older books? And I’m happy that they do — the oldest books here are over a decade old.

So many comics to read, and I’m basically busy all next week. Perhaps I can do a comics reading weekend! *gasp* I’m not sure I’m up for it… find out tomorrow…

Various: Late Night Tales presents After Dark: Vespertine (Bill Brewster)

12:00: Helt enkelt Samuel by Tummi Musturi (Lystring)

This is a collection of short vignettes featuring that little guy who’s doing things or having adventures. It’s wordless, and as a character, he doesn’t have much. Character.

But it’s quite interesting… it’s a bit wistful, and it’s a bit gruesome.

12:15: Bloodlines vol 1 by Rob Walton

Back in the 80s, Walton published a Bloodlines series via Aircel and then Vortex Comics, and I wrote about it here. I was a fan of the series as a teenager — the storytelling was cutting edge, the artwork was super sharp — even though I don’t have much interest in the general er theme of the book, which seemed to have something to do with religion or something? (The book was cancelled before things were clarified.)

But now Walton is self-publishing a collected edition which continues the story, and here I am reading it.

These are the first two pages: We’re dropped into the middle of this world which kinda resembles ours, but not quite. Nothing is explained, and we’re given no introduction to any of the characters. The storytelling reminds me a bit of Starstruck and Gilbert Hernandez? That is, it uses confusion as a way to involve the reader; to draw the reader in, and Walton uses it very effectively. Half of the time I’m going “wha?” and half the time “whoa”.

Having the characters be referred to by several different names by different people (The Fury, Deb, Judges er Deborah and probably more for one of them) adds to the mix. And there’s probably a couple dozen characters?

It’s dense and it’s full on — it’s relentless. It’s a thrilling read.

I was expecting a reprint and some new bits at the end, but as far as I can tell, it’s been totally redrawn? But follows (mostly) the same layouts as before. But it’s also been expanded — at least there are scenes intermingled that I can’t recall from my previous read. It covers basically the original issues, so it doesn’t advance the storyline — that’ll happen in the next volume, which I’ll be buying, of course.

It’s a print on demand book via Amazon, so you have to buy it here. Hm… Oh! The second book is already out! Bought a copy now.

13:25: Bodyseed Prologue by Casey Nowak (Diskette Press)

This little book is apparently a prologue to a longer, projected work.

It’s a cute little story on its own.

13:35: Dream Eater by Emma Jayne (Diskette Press)

This is pretty charming, but the storytelling is a bit rough. The main driver of the action is relentless bickering, and that stops being entertaining at some point.

But the monster design is excellent.

13:57: A Shining Beacon by James Albon (Top Shelf)

Ooh, I love this artwork.

It’s a near future dystopian-ish kind of story — a very repressive gummint is in charge, and our protagonist, Francesca, has been hired to paint a patriotic mural. Complications ensue — and most of the complications are the ones you expect from this kind of story, so it feels a bit like a retread.

But it’s a heartfelt book, and the storytelling is compelling even if the story isn’t. Most of all, though, it’s the artwork that carries the book.

14:40: Rork 1. fragments by Andreas (NBM)

I saw somebody on the Twitterses reading this old book (from 1990) and I thought it looked interesting, so I got a copy off of the ebays.

Oh, wow. I guess Andreas’ main influences were Berni Wrightson, Berni Wrightson and Berni Wrightson (plus Neal Adams).

But now he’s discovered P. Craig Russell?

Before finally discovering Moebius and Druillet.

The artwork’s fine, if derivative, but the stories are pure codswallop: It’s like a parody of French comics from the late 70s.

15:00: Nåden by Emmi Valve (Lystring)

This is a Finnish book, and it’s about mental problems and stuff.

It’s harrowing.

I’ve read quite a few comics about mental health issues, but this really strikes hard — it really makes you feel it.

Great storytelling, attractive artwork — though the ending feels a bit… forced? … it’s a solid book.

Wishmountain: Stonework (1000 metres down remixes)

15:36: Binary Decay by Tsemberlidis (Decadence Comics)

As with the other Decadence comics, this is a brief, wordless book.

But unusually, it’s in a very large format, and in colour. Looks fantastic!

Various: The Wire Tapper 62

15:38: Tales to Demolish #1-3 by Eric Haven (Sparkplug Comics)

These books are almost 20 years old, but I picked them up from Domino recently.

Heh heh.

Tee hee.

Yes, indeed, it’s the usual mix of insanity and hilarity we expect from Eric Haven.

And now I have to run some errands.

16:17: Travel Diary by Scott Finch

Oh, this is a wordless, slightly abstract diary thing… Looks wonderful.

Wow! This is a amazing! Look at that flight! That couple smooching! This is like some kind of brand new idiomatic way of doing comics — I’m not sure I understand everything, but it makes me want to try to, because it’s so compelling.

Wonderful book.

I wonderful if he’d done stuff like this as large format paintings (in addition to these, which are apparently collages?), because I think these things would look amazing on the wall, but apparently not. I’m tempted to buy some of these other works… Hm…

Suicide: A Way of Life

16:33: Glaeolia 1 (Glacier Bay Books)

This was originally published some years back, but unusually for an anthology, they’ve made a second printing. Which is nice, because I’d missed the first issue.

As with the other issues of Glaeolia, there’s a very distinct point of view in the editing — we get a number of ruminative vignettes: Everything is kinda gentle and soft and slightly “spiritual”.

Individually the pieces are mostly interesting, but taken together, I think it’s a bit too samey?

17:20: GMT Times Dreams by Mark Wang (Paradise Systems)

This looks very attractive.

The story is basically an extended gag, in a way, and it’s pretty funny.

17:24: Kuš Minis #115-118 (Kuš)

Ana Margerida Matos does a meditation on the comics form.

Noemi Vola does a distressing little book.

Gareth Brookes does an amusing thing about a non/relationship, but the most interesting thing are these mirrorings on every page, and how that’s also mirrored in the viewpoint(s).

Finally, Darin Shuler does a pretty funny and pretty weird thing about camping.

A solid batch of minis.

17:36: Causeway 10 by CF

Thrilling broadsheet from CF.

17:38: Pssst! I’m reading by Zane Zlemeša (Kuš)

This is what it says on the tin. I think it’s a bit underdeveloped? It doesn’t go into why Kuš started publishing in English, for instance…

17:43: Nav by Daniel Østvold (Ford Forlag)

This immediately looks like it’s inspired by Nick Drnaso…

… but it’s a wild and very funny and goofy story instead. The plot is that the author gets a mail from the gummint saying that as he immigrated from France in 1999, he may be eligible for a French pension instead of a Norwegian one. As he’s lived in Norway always, that sounds odd to him, but he starts imagining that the gummint is perhaps correct…

I’ve read one book by Østvold before, and that was very funny, too, so I guess I should just go and buy them all.

Cranes: John Peel Sessions

18:02: Old Caves by Tyler Landry (Uncivilized Books)

The artwork is attractive, and the slightly oblique storytelling is satisfying.

However, the story itself (rugged wilderness guy being dumped by the magic pixie dream girlfriend) is a huge letdown.

Little Simz: No Thank You

18:26: The Man in the McIntosh Suit by Rina Ayuyang (Drawn & Quarterly)

What? A D&Q book?!

I’ve really cut back on buying comics from D&Q. I basically bought everything they published, starting with the eponymous anthology in 1990 (I guess) until a couple years ago. But starting about half a decade ago, D&Q went from publishing nothing but interesting work (on one level or another) to publishing mostly… “New York Times bait”? I.e., “literary” books: Biographies and worthy tomes about serious subjects (not that there’s anything wrong with that) with storytelling that even your father can follow, and artwork that seems to be designed to look as non-inspiring as possible.

Because delight in artwork isn’t something serious readers are interested in, or something. I.e., the Nick Drnaso-ish stylee as a signifier that you’re not reading comics for the plebs.

(I guess the original publisher quitting might have something to do with it.)

But I’m still buying D&Q stuff that sounds interesting, like this. (And the cover looks pretty OK.)

Hey, this actually looks good…


OK… perhaps the creator hasn’t done comics before or something? Because those nature scenes looked good, and this looks ultra meh. At first I thought these were boys at a camp, but then it becomes clear that they’re adults (look at the moustaches). There’s no flow here from panel to panel, and there’s no sense of place. Where are the characters in relation to each other? Are they in a small room or in a void somewhere? Even the speech balloon placement is janky leading to retracing while reading.

No wait, I read that Boogie thing by her a while ago…

But yeah, we’ve got a sure-fire new-style D&Q respectable hit on our hands…

This is totally how people talk.

The plot is the most preposterous thing I’ve read in a while. But not in a good way. It was hard not to start skimming towards the end, because the convolutions were just tedious.

Ryuichi Sakamoto: 12

19:24: Pappa by Hanneriina Moisseinen (Lystring)

The author’s father went missing while on a camping trip on a small island when she was ten years old. He was never found. This book is about that.

The artwork is great — some of it’s photo referenced, and some of it’s not, but it’s all very fluid and perfect for this story.

And long sequences are embroidered instead of drawn.

It’s a harrowing and affecting book. It’s pretty amazing.

Various: Fabric 79 (Prosumer)

20:37: The Future is an Open Mouth by Dustin Holland

This has a certain thing going on — it’s very dense.

It’s apparently inspired by Delany… which I guess makes sense.

20:54: Mystic Debris by Justin Gradin (Fantagraphics)

This starts off as a wild, but pretty normal story about a band going on the road and all that stuff…

… but then it turns into some of the strangest comics I’ve read in a while (and I’ve read a lot of strange comics). Half the book is about astral projection and the hi-jinx happening while projecting, and I’m… not quite sure what happens at the end? But it’s a wild ride.

John Zorn: The Bagatelles (13): Speed-Irabagon Quartet

21:30: Rain on Glass by Sean Azzopardi

This is an autobio mini told in an untraditional way — it’s kind of associative and skips in time in a interesting way.

Really good stuff.

And there’s a mini with character designs?

Xiu Xiu: Never Say Never

21:45: Couch Tag by Jesse Reklaw (Fantagraphics)

Hey, it’s signed? Oh yeah, I bought this from Reklaw’s web shop.

This book has five sections, but each section is quite similar structurally: We get short (often one page) stories about something in Reklaw’s childhood or youth. The first section is structured around the thirteen (!) cats Reklaw’s family had when he grew up (they mostly died).

GLYSK: Social Intercourse

The second section is the longest, and is the harshest. Every time you turn a page, you’re looking for some atrocity to pop out at you. I mean, there’s not that many horrible things, but it’s drawn in this friendly, innocent way, and then you get the alternatively the most embarrassing childhood things ever put on a page, or something gruesome happening. It makes for gruelling reading.

Max Tundra: Remixtape

Oddly enough, the last few pages of this section is drawn in a totally different style.

Anyway, when the second section ends, we’re still only halfway through the book, and I’m totally emotionally drained… but then the book just continues to less fraught teenage high-jinx, and that’s just a tough juxtaposition. I think it would have made more sense to just publish two slimmer books, really, but that’s probably not economically feasible.

I just grew really impatient while reading the third and fourth sections.

Black Dice: Mod Prog Sic

The final section, drawn in this style, does make sense to include — it clarifies a lot of what we learned in the second section, and has really successful ending.

Fontaines D.C.: Dogrel

00:29: The End

And now I’m totally exhausted, so I’m going to bed.

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